The Last Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 520 pages of information about The Last Man.

[1] Lord Byron’s Fourth Canto of Childe Harolde. [2] Shakspeare’s Sonnets.

CHAPTER II.

On my arrival, I found that an order had already gone forth for the army to proceed immediately towards Constantinople; and the troops which had suffered least in the battle were already on their way.  The town was full of tumult.  The wound, and consequent inability of Argyropylo, caused Raymond to be the first in command.  He rode through the town, visiting the wounded, and giving such orders as were necessary for the siege he meditated.  Early in the morning the whole army was in motion.  In the hurry I could hardly find an opportunity to bestow the last offices on Evadne.  Attended only by my servant, I dug a deep grave for her at the foot of the tree, and without disturbing her warrior shroud, I placed her in it, heaping stones upon the grave.  The dazzling sun and glare of daylight, deprived the scene of solemnity; from Evadne’s low tomb, I joined Raymond and his staff, now on their way to the Golden City.

Constantinople was invested, trenches dug, and advances made.  The whole Greek fleet blockaded it by sea; on land from the river Kyat Kbanah, near the Sweet Waters, to the Tower of Marmora, on the shores of the Propontis, along the whole line of the ancient walls, the trenches of the siege were drawn.  We already possessed Pera; the Golden Horn itself, the city, bastioned by the sea, and the ivy-mantled walls of the Greek emperors was all of Europe that the Mahometans could call theirs.  Our army looked on her as certain prey.  They counted the garrison; it was impossible that it should be relieved; each sally was a victory; for, even when the Turks were triumphant, the loss of men they sustained was an irreparable injury.  I rode one morning with Raymond to the lofty mound, not far from the Top Kapou, (Cannon-gate), on which Mahmoud planted his standard, and first saw the city.  Still the same lofty domes and minarets towered above the verdurous walls, where Constantine had died, and the Turk had entered the city.  The plain around was interspersed with cemeteries, Turk, Greek, and Armenian, with their growth of cypress trees; and other woods of more cheerful aspect, diversified the scene.  Among them the Greek army was encamped, and their squadrons moved to and fro—­now in regular march, now in swift career.

Raymond’s eyes were fixed on the city.  “I have counted the hours of her life,” said he; “one month, and she falls.  Remain with me till then; wait till you see the cross on St. Sophia; and then return to your peaceful glades.”

“You then,” I asked, “still remain in Greece?”

“Assuredly,” replied Raymond.  “Yet Lionel, when I say this, believe me I look back with regret to our tranquil life at Windsor.  I am but half a soldier; I love the renown, but not the trade of war.  Before the battle of Rodosto I was full of hope and spirit; to conquer there, and afterwards to take Constantinople, was the hope, the bourne, the fulfilment of my ambition.  This enthusiasm is now spent, I know not why; I seem to myself to be entering a darksome gulph; the ardent spirit of the army is irksome to me, the rapture of triumph null.”

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The Last Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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